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6 Strategies Hospitals can use to Reduce Medical Errors

6 Strategies Hospitals can use to Reduce Medical Errors

Each year, patients die due to hospital errors. As a result, some organizations implement improved communication frameworks to reduce errors, while others offer incentives to improve employee performance. Caregiving facilities that analyze patient outcomes, target trouble areas and educate patients about discharge details improve client outcomes. A committed team can make these improvements a reality.

Medical Errors Occur Frequently

One in seven hospitalized Medicare patients experience errors, even for routine services such as dietary preparation. [1] Medical errors occur with subscriptions, diagnoses, equipment and reports in all caregiving settings due to an increasingly complex caregiving framework and miscommunication. [2] There are several strategies that caregiving organizations can implement to reduce these errors.

Strategy 1: The I-PASS System

The I-PASS Handoff Bundle is a comprehensive framework that reduces medical errors when handing off, or transferring responsibility, from one caregiver to another and works in all caregiving settings and with all disciplines. [3] The framework includes written and oral tasks that relate to:

  • Illness severity
  • Patient summaries
  • Action lists
  • Situation awareness and contingency planning
  • Synthesis, or understanding, by the receiver

Caregivers follow the framework by entering patient information into a database. The process reduces errors and requires no more work than other record keeping methods.

Strategy 2: Employee Incentives

Medicare rewards intuitions for improving patient outcomes, an example that caregiving institutions can duplicate with employees. [2] A recognition and reward program helps employees feel significant and valued and shows that management cares about their staff members, while boosting morale among mentally and physically fatigued workers.

Strategy 3: Data Analysis

Medical institutions can evaluate negative outcomes using a transparent reporting system that increases urgency and encourages improvements, which helps organizational leaders and patients. Several states use Medicare’s Hospital Acquired Conditions (HAC) classifications to track moderate medical errors and the National Quality Forum’s Serious Reportable Events framework for more consequential mistakes. However, a standardized national reporting schema does not exist.

Strategy 4: Patient Discharge Education

Most patients do not fully understand discharge directions, which leads to unnecessary readmissions and reduced Medicare incentives for facilities. Medical personnel should make sure that clients clearly understand their aftercare instructions and should inform patients about what activities they can safely pursue while recovering. They must also investigate patient drug backgrounds to avoid negative interactions.

Strategy 5: Diagnostic Error Troubleshooting

Over the last forty years, nine percent of mortalities occurred due to incorrect diagnoses, which often results from assessing patient conditions based on past experiences rather than individual, conclusive evaluations. [4] These errors also occur when caregivers support an initial assessment even though other factors prove that assessment invalid. To reduce these incidents, organizational leaders must define desired goals, beginning with reducing the most common errors at their respective facilities.

Strategy 6: Teamwork

The populations’ increased medical need has resulted in practitioners expanding their disciplines. [5] Medical personnel must quickly learn new practices and procedures amid sweeping innovations and changing regulatory conditions, which is easier when organizations work as a team. By working together, employees can reduce staff member fatigue and errors caused by the increased workload and simultaneously increase patient satisfaction.

Putting Ideas to Work

Hospital errors result in many preventable patient deaths. Improved communications can reduce patient mortalities due to errors by 30 percent and reduce nonlife-threatening errors by 25 percent. [3] This takes more than implementing boilerplate error reduction initiatives; reducing hospital errors requires a grassroots effort that all personnel wholeheartedly endorse.
Medical errors occur for many reasons. While some healthcare organizations are working to reduce errors, more states must join the effort. Caregiving facilities can use improved communication, employee incentives and data analysis to reduce errors. Most importantly, successfully improving a caregiving environment requires a team effort.

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Sources

1. http://archive.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/care-planning/errors/20tips/index.html
2. http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/keys-medical-errors/
3. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-key-thing-doctors-can-do-to-reduce-hospital-errors/
4. https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primers/primer/12/diagnostic-errors
5. http://www.hrhresourcecenter.org/HRH_Info_Teamwork